Sam Mayer (No. 21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet) had the best ride in his short ARCA Menards Series career at Salem and finished in second place to become the Bounty Rookie of the Race at the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200. This is the first time Mayer has chosen up the honors and went with Harrison Burton (No.20 DEX Imaging Toyota, Daytona) and Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy Toyota, Pensacola) as the Bounty Rookie of the Race winners so far 2019.
Race Award at Salem High Banks
Carson Hocevar (No. 28 Scott’s / KBR Development Chevrolet) won the General Tire Pole Award and was the top smoking rookie for much of the early part of the race, leading 26 laps in the process. Hocevar eventually handed over the lead to Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Oil Toyota) and began to slowly slide back through the running order and dropped to fifth. Meanwhile, Mayer had entered the top five and was engaged in a lively fight for third with fellow Bounty Rookie challenger Ty Gibbs. Mayer came along with Gibbs, who went into turn one on lap 88 and went forward on the low side. Gibbs could not hold the seat and go on a solo spin without contact, narrow missing Mayers Chevrolet. A round of pit stops followed with caution, and Mayer was in second place when the race started again.
The race was restarted, and Mayer dropped from the outside of the front row due to worsening conditions. Mayer remained in second place when the caution came back half hot water. The red flag flew at lap 101, and the rain fell. After a short delay, the race was officially called, and Mayer got a new career-best finish in the ARCA Menards Series, as well as his first Bounty Rookie of the Race award.
With Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) withdrawing at the last-minute race due to illness, Tommy Vigh Jr. (No. 10 Extreme Kleaner Ford) led in the Bounty Rookie Challenge with 80 points. Eckes drops to second place with 60 points. Corey Heim (No. 22 Speedway Children’s Charities) remains in third place with 56 points. Carson Hocevar is in fourth place with 52 points, and Tim Richmond (No. 06 Great Railing Dodge) ranks in the top five with 48 points.
It is important to note that only the top 15 goals in the 2019 season will count towards a driver’s Bounty Rookie Challenge score, so Eckes will still be fighting a lot to get the season-long award at the end of 2019 even though I have to miss Salem.
The drivers and teams in the ARCA Menards Series will head south to the high width of the Talladega Superspeedways for the next race on Friday, 26 April. It seems that almost anything can happen when the AMS cars compete on the sacred superspeedway. Last year, any Bounty Rookie of the Year won Zane Smith by the narrowest margins – a statistically dead heat. The tie between Smith and fellow Bounty Rookie Joe Graf Jr. was finally broken after reviewing evidence and photos.